Cast your minds back to a time when metal music was not cool. Nay, indeed, a time when metal was anathema to all that was considered to be “chic” and “in.” A time when your favorite bands were actually encouraged by the music industry to play slower, cut their hair, and write sensitive lyrics about their childhoods. Yes, this unfortunately really happened. Our semi-irregular feature “90s Metal Weirdness” focuses on albums released between 1992 and 2001 and which we all probably would rather forget. — AMG

Anthrax – Stomp 442 [1995]

The Back Story: When I was a kid, I was bedridden for about 3 weeks with bronchitis. In an effort to cheer me up, my folks brought home some new CDs from bands I liked. This included Ozzy‘s then-current Ozzmosis, and Metallica‘s single for “Until it Sleeps.” The third CD was Anthrax‘s 1995 trainwreck Stomp 442. By comparison, the bronchitis seemed pleasant, and I recovered quickly.

If it feels like Anthrax has been on some kind of “comeback” for years now, rest assured that this record is what they are coming back from.

What Does It Sound Like: If Load was Metallica‘s perception of ’90s rock, then Stomp was Anthrax‘s interpretation of the post-Nirvana landscape. Most of these songs are built upon nothing more than minimalist drop-D riffs and monotone vocals. I’d bet money that these guys were listening to a shitload of Helmet at the time. “King Size,” “Drop the Ball,” and “In a Zone” are so one-dimensional that they might as well be the same song.

A few songs stand out from the shit heap. “Fueled” rocks out shamelessly, and gets bonus points for somehow name-checking Charles Bukowski. “Bare” is the album’s sole ballad, and while it’s no “Black Lodge,” it at least allows John Bush to sing in his natural style and not sound like an idiot. And I always kinda liked the song “Perpetual Motion,” although I’m still not sure why. Also, this album is a showcase for drummer Charlie Benante, who delivers some driving rhythms throughout.

Everything about Stomp 442 feels completely, horribly forced. 1994’s Sound of White Noise might have made some concessions to the times, but it still felt like Anthrax, and in many ways it was the logical next step from Persistence of TimeStomp 442 is the sound of admitting defeat and jumping on some totally inappropriate bandwagons.

The one silver lining is that lead guitarist/cross-eyed guy Dan Spitz quit, and the band brought in none other than Dimebag Darrell to fill in. Dime was at the peak of his powers at the time, and his solos manage to redeem some otherwise worthless songs, i.e. “Riding Shotgun.”

Are There Any Songs About Molestation/Stupid Political Lyrics? Nope. Like many ’90s albums by ’80s bands, the lyrics were fixated on being left in the dust career-wise by grunge rock. The track “Tester” spells it out bluntly: “Tell me/an alternative to what?” (Somehow, their dislike for alternative rock didn’t stop them from imitating it as much as humanly possible.)

Is There Any Rapping On The Album? You bet your sweet ass there is. Apparently Scott Ian felt that “Bring the Noise” gave him some cred in the rap game, and wrote some awkward white-guy rhymes for Bush to struggle through. Opener “Random Acts of Senseless Violence” is by far the worst offender, though other songs are also pretty ridiculous.

Were Haircuts Involved? Haircuts and rap-metal are the only trends that Anthrax were ahead of the curve on. Scott Ian had been bald for years, and Benante and Frank Bello were already sporting ’90s-approved styles. Bush had kind of a Bruce Willis-circa-Hudson Hawk thing going on, before shaving his head and turning into a dead ringer for my middle school guidance counselor.

Left: "Hudson Hawk." Right: John Bush, live in 1995.

Left: “Hudson Hawk.” Right: John Bush, live in 1995.

The Aftermath: Predictably, Anthrax got dropped from Elektra Records after Stomp, resulting in a series of shitty indie labels (seen a copy of Volume 8 anywhere lately? Didn’t think so). They endured an insane amount of lineup changes, including a humiliating revolving door of vocalists between 2005-2010. Eventually, Anthrax rehired their ’80s-era singer Joey Belladonna, ensuring that no one under the age of 45 would ever give a shit about them again. Some people seemed to like their latest release Worship Music (2011).

After telling Anthrax to get fucked, Bush launched a successful career as a voiceover actor, eventually becoming the “voice” of Burger King’s TV commercials. I bet he’d rather shill for Whoppers and chicken fries than rap his way through “Random Acts” ever again. He does stuff occasionally with his original band Armored Saint [Which also sucks. – AMG].

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  • Ingvar Árni Ingvarsson

    I was on board with all of that up until that last comment on Armored Saint because the last album was fucking immense.

    • Jay Alan Goodwin

      I saw Armored Saint in ’84. They opened for Quiet Riot (they “suck too,” I’m sure haha) on the Condition Critical tour. I was ten and it was my first rock concert. I thought they were decent. Raising Fear got a lot of play around my house when that came out.

  • Jay Alan Goodwin

    I saw Anthrax on this tour (I was really there to see the Misfits pre-American Psycho “resurrection” tour) and couldn’t agree more. John Bush came out wearing combat boots and a flight jacket haha. I could kind of sense he didn’t have his heart in the rapping he had to do on Bring the Noise. He literally sat down near the back of the stage through the whole song.

    That’s what’s funny about the whole “grunge/alt” era. You still see people like Charlie Benante whining in metal documentaries about how “we had it good…and then Nirvana happened :….( ” And then, as you said, they all tried really hard to sell out and be like music that was more popular. Bands like Anthrax mostly did it to themselves; they deserved to get temporarily steamrolled by the likes of Nirvana and Alice In Chains. They were getting boring and stagnant and people wanted something different. Tough shit.

    I did think Worship Music was decent though.

    • Fisting_Andrew_Golota

      Couldn’t have said it better myself!

  • I remember picking this up at the record store. It was an import and the price tag was hefty. I actually had liked Sound of White Noise and I was mildly hyped. Perhaps it was because its only redeeming quality: That cover art. Ah, to be young and without consumer sense.

    THEN I was greeted by that staccato *air quotes* riffing *air quotes* and had the worst metal deception of my youth after Load. I think it’s well buried in a box of relics from that confusing times, right next to my two copies of Load. Yes I KNOW. But one was my own purchase and the other was a misinformed gift.

  • Realkman666

    I’ve literally seen that CD in every bargain bin I’ve ever been through.

    • Can’t sell that motherfucker, I’m sure.

      • Realkman666

        The 1$ sticker just screams “STAY AWAY!!!”

  • Now I feel bad for kinda liking this album. OK, I’m over it.

    • Well, looks like you need to do an “Indefensible Position.”

  • FutureBeyondSatan

    I never quite understood why the eff the Anthrax boys picked Bush to butcher the vocals. They lost me at Hy Pro Glo.

  • hubcapiv

    Lately there have been an awful lot of 3.5s/reviews that are maybe a half-point higher than it seems like they should have been.

    Leave it to Stomp 442 to put the angry back into the Angry Metal Guy collective.

    • Fisting_Andrew_Golota

      This album is 19 years old, so I’ve had a lot of time to be angry about it.
      Also, I’m not the one who was handing out 3.5’s like candy.

  • And Armored Saint never sucked! That’s crazy talk.

  • Mike Eckman

    Ugh, I remember when this came out. Even though it was different, I really liked “Sound of White Noise”, but then when this came out, I couldn’t stop vomiting. This album was the poster child of what went wrong with metal in the 90s. For every Testament – Low, there was 10 albums like Stomp 442. I blame this album for GM shutting down Oldsmobile. GM probably said, we need to cut a division, which one should go? And some janitor was listening to this while mopping the floors, and some suit heard it and went “Stomp 442”? Oldsmobile made a 442. By George, thats it. Who cares if the Aurora was GM’s best car of the late 90s. Oldmosbile must die.

    • Fisting_Andrew_Golota

      Interesting theory about Oldsmobile. Personally, I blame Obama.

  • Finn

    “Cast your minds back to a time when metal music was not cool. Nay,
    indeed, a time when metal was anathema to all that was considered to be
    “chic” and “in.””
    Um… isn’t that still the case? Metal hasn’t been cool in my lifetime.

  • Our Fortress Is Burning

    Yeah, this album is a steaming turd. Sadly, their next couple of albums were just as bad or worse. I can’t understand John Bush as the Anthrax vocalist at all. Other than ‘The Sound of White Noise’ which was passable, they didn’t record anything approaching good quality with Bush. Bush doesn’t sound out place with Armored Saint, but he has always sounded out of place with Anthrax. Unfortunately, Armored Saint also happens to suck, but that’s another story.

    And yet, somehow, certain people, including members of Anthrax, prefer John Bush over Belladonna. The website, MetalSucks, has made posts on several occassions about how Anthrax is better with Bush. I don’t get it. What good songs did Anthrax record with Bush? Was there one great album with Bush? People are entitled to their opinions, but I truly don’t undestand the love some people have for Bush as the Anthrax frontman.

  • Earthworm_Jim2

    So…it seems this album is even more ridiculously and unfairly bashed than Metallica’s Load albums and even Megadeth’s Risk album. Wish everyone would open their ears and not expect metal at all times

  • The_Sage_Mage_of_Rage_Uncaged

    Interesting, I am an Anthrax ‘fan’ since I first heard Armed and Dangerous, then, went back to love, Fistful of Metal, then ahead to Spreading the Disease, and on. I don’t understand the sentiment in the article, or the comments, and what is said about John Bush. I’d rather hear him than Joey, Joey got tedious to listen to, for me, with State of Euphoria. I didn’t even listen to Anthrax, or new Anthrax for years, until I ordered a bunch of CDs, for a penny, and Stomp442 was one of them. It is in my personal opinion one of the better albums from Anthrax, and, I think it is because of what John Bush brings, which is not all cheezy like almost all of what Joey sings and brings. I only listened to the first Armored Saint album, after that, I was only interested in Thrash Metal, being an SF Bay Area resident…but, I agree with the statements about Metallica, and Load of shit, and, Re-Load, another load of shit music…and even Risk, but, I love Megadeth.